Library support for undergraduate research

Now that the fall semester is in full swing, there are loads of research support services for undergraduate researchers. The following is a broad list for students and faculty:

Subject specialist librarians – Each department/college has an assigned expert librarian to assist students with their research. They can help you find materials in your subject area and they can also teach you how to search more effectively in your databases. If you are a faculty member, contact your librarian for specialized information literacy services designed for your course.

Savvy Researcher workshops – We teach workshops almost every day of the semester on a variety of topics including citation management, how to do a literature review, personal information management, GIS, infographics, database design, working with images, presentation tools like Prezi and PowerPoint, advanced Google searching, and much much more!

Resource guides – Librarians create special resource guides on a variety of topics in order to highlight library resources for your research.

Data Services – Every afternoon during the fall and spring semester, there is an expert in the Scholarly Commons (306 Main Library) that is ready to assist your with anything related to data including assistance with finding and formatting digital numeric and spatial data, geographic information systems (GIS), and much more. Drop-in hours are Monday-Friday from 2-5pm. You can also make an appointment by sending an email to

Survey Research Lab – Every Thursday from 2-5pm, the Survey Research Lab is available for free consultations on all aspects of survey design (306 Main Library). They also teach a suite of free research methods workshops including “Introduction to Survey Sampling,” “Introduction to Web Surveys,” “Introduction to Questionnaire Design,” and “Introduction to Survey Data Analysis: Addressing Survey Design and Data Quality.”

Scholarly Commons – Located in 306 Main Library, the Scholarly Commons has experts that can help you with digitization, creating a digital humanities project, consulting about data management, answer basic copyright questions, help you archive your project in the institutional repository, and much more. We have computers that include specialized software including ABBYYFineReader, ArcGIS, Python, QSR Nvivo, R and R Studio, and SAS. We also have Mac computers and corresponding software. Stop by Monday-Thursday 11am-7pm and Fridays 11am-6pm or set up a personal consultation by sending an email to

Media Commons – Located in the Undergraduate Library, the Media Commons offers a wide range of technology and support centered around collaboration and digital media. Specifically, the MC offers several zones of support including audio and video production, gaming, and media editing. There is also a large pool of loanable technology that any student can borrow including video and digital cameras and equipment, gaming and mobile devices, memory and external drives, GPS, adapters, and much more. Take advantage of their training and tutorials and consulting services.

Ask-a-Librarian – Get immediate help anytime the Main Library is open by using our online chat service. Experts can help you with any part of the research process!

Merinda Hensley, Assistant Professor and Instructional Services Librarian

Facilitating Student Growth and Elevating Access: The Inaugural Edition of Peer Review

The Ethnography of the University Initiative (EUI) has just launched its inaugural edition of its undergraduate research journal, Peer Review: The Undergraduate Research Journal of the Ethnography of the University Initiative. As the title suggests, our journal exists specifically as a platform to highlight research conducted by undergraduate students.  Moreover, the scope of the journal is to publish research that centers on the university experience (at the University of Illinois or otherwise).


Cover art for the journal, designed by Brett Lauren Eaton

EUI promotes student research on universities and colleges as complex institutions. Based at the University of Illinois, EUI supports faculty from various disciplinary and methodological backgrounds to integrate original student research on universities and colleges into their courses through faculty development workshops, customized web environments, Institutional Review Board permissions, and bi-annual student conferences. In EUI-affiliated courses, students use a variety of ethnographic, archival, and related methods to examine the university in the broader context of our social and political times. At the end of each semester, students have the opportunity to contribute their work to the EUI collection in the U of I’s digital repository, Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS).  Now, as we launch our journal, students have a new outlet to highlight their work.

In the spirit of a journal for undergraduate students, five undergraduate editors managed the selection of articles, led the editing of those works selected, and facilitated the final production of our first edition. The most integral characteristic of our journal, in my view, is the open access platform through which we make our journal available digitally and free.  While much of academic scholarship is hidden behind the proverbial wall of institutional journal subscription fees, the very possibility to expand the audience of academic work through the Open Journals Systems (OJS) is exciting. Investing time and resources into undergraduate research is telling of the University’s commitment to its students and to fostering a new generation of future graduate students and researchers who will likely consider this early outlet for their research as a vital component of their decision to continue important work.

Our inaugural issue features two peer-reviewed articles. The first examines accessibility issues at sororities and highlights the limitations of temporary accessibility accommodations typically made during recruitment whereas the second article examines Illinois State University’s student health agenda and suggests that despite links between student health and academics, student health is taken for granted. The digital platform uniquely affords us the ability to also publish and highlight research that is presented in multi-media platforms. As such, our first multi-media project explores the experiences of LGBTQ students as they engage in different social spaces across campus.

We invite you to explore the online platform of the journal:

 T. Jameson Brewer, Senior Editor

Re:Search, The Undergraduate Literary Criticism Journal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: The Inaugural Issue

This year marked the inaugural publication of the first issue of Re:Search: The Undergraduate Literary Criticism Journal at the University of Illinois. Re:Search is an undergraduate-produced, peer-reviewed journal designed to annually publish articles exclusively authored by undergraduate Humanities students. It seeks to create a venue for undergraduate students to showcase and publish literary criticism within a greater academic discourse while nurturing a collaborative community between faculty, administration, and undergraduate students.

Cover Art for the journal, designed by freshman undergraduate Graphic Design student, Madison Ross-Ryan

Cover Art for the journal, designed by freshman undergraduate Graphic Design student, Madison Ross-Ryan

A particular feature that distinguishes Re:Search from other undergraduate journals is that it supports students throughout the research and publication process. Particularly, this journal offers a faculty mentorship, where students work closely with a faculty advisor while drafting their article. While the publication of the journal is certainly an accomplishment in its own right, what this journal also strives to do is foster a culture of collaboration amongst the undergraduate student body, faculty, and university departments across campus (including the Scholarly Commons at the University Library, the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR), and the English Department) with the collective vision of encouraging undergraduate research.

Re:Search site

Open Journal System online platform for Re:Search

In addition to offering hard copies of the journal available to print on demand through the Espresso Book Machine in the Illini Union Bookstore (and generously funded by the English Department), the University Library and OUR both funded and assisted in the founding of an online, fully-indexed platform through an Open Journals Systems (OJS) to showcase the completed work of undergraduate students. By working alongside University Librarians and Graduate students in the Graduate Library and Information Sciences (GSLIS) program, we have established an online platform that is accessible to a wide audience, including: current university students, instructors, administration, alumni and prospective students. This OJS platform will continue to be instrumental in future publications as it enables us to regulate the peer-review, copyediting and proofreading processes in one localized site.

Example of an article

Example of an article on the online platform

The increasing recognition of the value of undergraduate research in the University of Illinois is empowering for us undergraduate students, and I believe signals towards a transformative shift in the research culture here on campus.

We invite you to explore the online platform of the journal:

We are also on Facebook:

To learn more about Re:Search and opportunities to be involved, please visit our microsite:

Nick Millman, Editor in Chief of Re:Search

Undergraduates Present Original Research at EUI Conference

Undergraduates enrolled in Ethnography of the University Initiative affiliated courses presented their original research to an audience of peers, professors, and community members on April 15. As an audience member, I was thrilled to hear from the researchers about their semester-long projects, which spanned a wide variety of topics related to the University of Illinois and Parkland College. The buzz of conversation and animated exchanges between presenters and attendees during the poster portion of conference exemplifies the valuable opportunity that is conference participation. Though many were nervous, and indeed many had never presented at a conference before, students beamed with satisfaction as they answered questions and comments about their projects.

The students’ confidence and passion for their research projects could be felt in the oral presentations as well. Presenters prepared brief panel presentations about their research questions, methodologies, and findings. Topics included academic parking habits, student healthcare knowledge, recruitment practices in university programs, personal benefits derived from volunteerism, and individual aesthetic choices and the construction of social meaning of body adornment. Audience members appreciated the quality of projects, and also offered new angles of analysis that could lead to further, more in-depth research. Some conference participants described their EUI-affiliated course as “eye-opening” and “good practice” for their future academic career. Another student said her EUI experience had left her feeling more responsible and an active agent in her undergraduate education.

EUI’s Spring 2014 conference exemplified the importance of undergraduate research at the U of I and its sister college(s), undergraduate engagement with the university or college as subject and agent, and the excitement undergrads have being able to participate in the research process.

More information on EUI can be found on our website.

Noelle Easterday, EUI Graduate Assistant

Image of Research – UR Edition, 2014 Winners

The Image of Research – UR Edition is a multidisciplinary competition celebrating the diversity and breadth of undergraduate student research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. All undergraduate students are invited to submit entries consisting of an image and brief text that articulates how the image relates to the research. Entries will be judged by a multidisciplinary panel for:

  • Connection between image narrative and research
  • Originality
  • Visual Impact


First place ($300 award): JunYoung Gwak, “Vision based construction site surveillance for efficient utilization of resources and safety monitoring,” Computer Science

JunYoung Gwak                                                           (Click photo to enlarge)

Narrative: My passion lies in computer vision, a field of study which makes computer see and understand what people can. Since humans heavily rely on visual information, building a computer system which has the same visual sense has a significant meaning. With computer vision, computers can smartly interact with the environment and perform various tasks that could only be done by humans before. The goal of my project is to automatically detect and track workers and equipments from video cameras and localize their position in 3D purely based on computer vision techniques. In this image, 3D position of the workers are displayed on the point cloud model of the construction site. Based on this information, computer can automatically alarm workers walking into a dangerous area. Also, managers can make better decisions about utilization of workers and equipments. I hope small gains in efficiency through my research could lead to an enormous cost savings on the $900 billion construction industry.


Second place ($200 award): Aimee Gottlieb, “Inclusivity through Sport,” Recreation, Sport, and Tourism

Aimee Gottlieb                                                           (Click photo to enlarge)

Narrative: I took this picture at a wheelchair track practice last fall. It tied in perfectly with the research I had been doing on sport and inclusion. Previously, people with disabilities have been excluded from mainstream society and sports, with a mindset where sports were a tool primarily for rehabilitation. Recently, there has been a global push to be more inclusive through sport in order to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals laid out by the United Nations. To be more inclusive through sport, a greater effort needs to be made to not only include people with disabilities in adaptive sports, but also through mainstream sports. Sport has this unique power of uniting people and making differences in ability seem nonexistent. Being inclusive through sport can create awareness of different disabilities, make participation have meaning for everyone, and encourage opportunities to play together. This picture encompasses the power of inclusivity through sport. The disability appears nonexistent and the competitive drive and love for the sport is central to the image.


Honorable mention ($50 award): Le Wang, “Reading Physiological Signals from Faces,” Electrical and Computer Engineering
Le Wang                                                           (Click photo to enlarge)

Narrative:My research is on non-contact heart rate detection using temporal analysis of face video captured by ubiquitous RGB webcams. The cyclical movement of blood causes the color variations on the face, and the pulse via abdominal aorta and the carotid arteries. Heart rate is a critical vital sign of physical condition in medical diagnosis. There are also emerging needs for non-contact, low-term and accessible cardiac pulse estimation with wide applications in health monitoring, emotion assessment, and human computer interaction. To investigate the relationship between temporal color signals on the face regions, I use cross-correlation to measure the similarity between color variations on different face regions. The image on the left is the cross-correlation coefficient map with respect to the signal extracted at the forehead. The image on the right is the overlaid result of a single face video frame and the correlation coefficient map. We temporally band-pass filter each signal to reduce noises. From the resultant map, we could see high similarity between color signals on skin regions and the spatial pattern emerged as caused by the underlying blood flow. Our main research goal is to develop robust heart rate detection in unconstrained environments


Honorable mention ($50 award): Tayana Panova, “Phone Attention Social Psychology,” Psychology

Tayana Panova                                                           (Click photo to enlarge)

Narrative: This image is a combination of drawings I have done that reflect what I see on campus every day. I have observed that students on campus are constantly looking down at their phones and engaging with them, and my hypothesis is that this behavior can have negative social and psychological consequences. I am currently doing research on this topic as part of the psychology honors program, and my results have shown high correlations between maladaptive phone and Internet use with anxiety and depression. Previous research has shown that cell phone and Internet use is also associated with lower GPAs, unsatisfactory interpersonal interactions, sleep issues, and general psychological distress. This image attempts to convey some of the problems related with technology usage and propose a solution to set the phone down a little more often and look up, thereby engaging more with the world around us.


We’d like to thank our judges:

  • Karen Rodriguez’G, Office of Undergraduate Research
  • Sarah Christensen, Visual Resources Curator, University Library
  • Elizabeth Brown, Graduate Assistant, GSLIS

Competition coordinated by Merinda Kaye Hensley, Scholarly Commons Co-Coordinator, University Library with special thanks to the University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. For more information, please visit:

We will be creating an online exhibit for all of this years entries. Watch this blog, “Undergraduate Research at Illinois” for an announcement.

Welcome to “Undergraduate Research at Illinois”

The Undergraduate Research at Illinois blog is a collaboration between the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Scholarly Commons, University Library.

This blog will focus on events and research help related to formal undergraduate research programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Posts will include highlights of Illinois undergraduate research (see “Headlines: UG Research at Illinois” below), undergraduate research conferences and symposia from all disciplines, library resources and services addressing the needs of students and faculty, and occasional announcements including national conferences for undergraduate students. The blog also includes a calendar of events that will feature campus events, library workshops, deadlines for research opportunities, and national conferences (Calendar submission form).

Call for Submissions

“Headlines: UG Research at Illinois” are posts featuring undergraduate research happening on the Illinois campus. Submissions are accepted from undergraduate students and faculty mentors involved in formal undergraduate research programs across all disciplines.

Guidelines for submission:

  • Please include a title (250 characters or less).
  • Your narrative could consider the following: Tell us about your experience with undergraduate research. What have you learned? What is the impact on your field? How has your relationship with your students/faculty mentor changed the way you do research? We will consider any original writing about undergraduate research happening at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (up to 500 words).
  • You may include up to three (3) images to be included in your post. These images can be of your research or of the people involved (e.g. JPEG, TIFF, or PNG preferred).
  • “Headlines” will be published 2-3 times per month.
  • Posts may be edited for clarity. Authors will retain copyright of their work. Please contact all of those involved in your narrative before official submission.
  • Must be submitted by a current undergraduate student and/or faculty mentor involved in undergraduate research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Open call for submissions: (Must login with your NetID and password).